May 19, 2024

Mike Dodds is resolute in his stance that Sunderland’s final five Championship matches won’t be a testing ground for new strategies or players. Despite their position with little at stake in terms of promotion or relegation, Dodds emphasizes the importance of aiming for victories rather than experimenting. While acknowledging the potential significance of upcoming matches for other teams, he maintains that Sunderland’s focus remains on winning each game.

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Dodds acknowledges the presence of promising young players in the Under-21 squad, such as Tom Watson and Harrison Jones, who have shown potential but have yet to feature prominently in the first team this season. While he recognizes the value of their development through regular training with the senior squad, he cautions against promoting them solely for the sake of it in these final fixtures.

Dodds highlights his track record of providing opportunities to young talents in significant games, exemplified by 16-year-old Chris Rigg’s recent starts. However, he stresses the importance of maintaining a balance and ensuring the right environment for their development, suggesting that promoting young players shouldn’t come at the expense of team performance or morale. Dodds emphasizes the need for players to earn their place in the team through merit rather than being handed opportunities arbitrarily.

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